Popular Daytona Beach bridge malfunctions again, causes headache for drivers

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. —

A bridge that's more than 50 years old has broken down again in Daytona Beach, causing massive traffic issues for drivers.

The Veterans Memorial Bridge on Orange Avenue sits just east of Beach Street, but problems with the draw are causing drivers to have to find alternate routes over the Halifax River.

Channel 9's Blaine Tolison caught up with officials to find out what their plan is to keep the bridge problem-free.

On Tuesday, the draw bridge stayed in its upright locked position as drivers and pedestrians were turned away from crossing it.

"I think it's really convenient for the boats, because they don't have to wait around and what not, but for us pedestrians here, what are we supposed to do?" said resident Andrew Guddahl.

In the last three years, the bridge has malfunctioned once each year and costs a few hundred thousand dollars to maintain annually.

Parts for the bridge built in 1954 are expensive and must be custom-made, which means repairs can take days, officials said.

County leaders voted in 2011 to replace the bridge with a new high-rise bridge, but that project won't begin for at least another year and once started, it will take two years to complete, Tolison learned.

"It would make it a lot more convenient for us," said Guddahl.

The Florida Department of Transportation has already approved up to $48 million for the new bridge.

The new bridge will also have fishing piers, room for pedestrians and bicyclists and a tribute to veterans, officials said.